An Audience of Terminal Patients


Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case.
~Annie Dillard from “Write Till You Drop”


You’re going to feel like hell if you wake up someday and you never wrote the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves of your heart: your stories, memories, visions, and songs–your truth, your version of things–in your own voice. That’s really all you have to offer us, and that’s also why you were born.

~Anne Lamott in a recent TED Talk


I began to write after September 11, 2001 because that day it became obvious to me I was dying, albeit more slowly than the thousands who vanished that day in fire and ash, their voices obliterated with their bodies.   So, nearly each day since, while I still have voice and a new dawn to greet, I speak through my fingers and my camera lens to others dying around me.

My good friend, Sara, who I’ve known and loved half my life, is fighting for her life in an all day cancer surgery today, having fought a chronic disease and a totally different cancer once before and won.  She knows well the hard cost of winning even when the odds aren’t good,  yet still has a courage in her to fight once again.

That will to fight is heavy on my mind today.

We are, after all, terminal patients, some more imminent than others, some of us more prepared to move on, as if our readiness had anything to do with the timing.

Each day I too get a little closer, so I write and share photos of my world in order to hang on awhile longer.  Each day I must detach just a little bit, leaving a small trace of my voice and myself behind.  Eventually, through unmerited grace, so much of me will be left on the page there won’t be anything or anyone left to do the typing.

There is no moment or picture or word to waste.





7 thoughts on “An Audience of Terminal Patients

  1. Hmmmm….have I not been writing since I was in first grade……Amen
    lesson plans
    daily lists for organization [such good help when raising children]
    from day book to devotions
    Ah, yes, I have been writing….


  2. OH,YOU NEVER CEASE TO AMAZE ME!! I think the ducks reflect the one crazy friend or dare to be different! I am going to share this with my crafting class on Saturday. It is my first official class that i will making money!! Yay…..but you have inspired me more than you will ever know. My business is called Scattering Joy traveling class lessons. I enjoy reading and i enjoy the pics. Todays read….wow, just wow…. Blessings to you always.


  3. Thank you for your thoughts.
    I don’t have a blog, but for many, many years I have been creating greeting cards to be shared with friends in need. Back in the 80s for awhile, I sold them at craft shows, but eventually gave that up. Now, all these many years later I continue to create cards.
    I got a Smart phone a year ago and love the camera. I now incorporate my photos and my thoughts or scripture meaningful to me to have a greeting uniquely mine to share. Back in the 80s I took calligraphy classes and went to calligraphy classes. I don’t do much calligraphy anymore…except on the card envelopes.
    Many have said the greetings were appreciated and helpful. I have sometimes thought I’d like to write a book or be published in some way. I don’t think that will happen, but in this small way of creating and sending greeting cards for a variety of occasions…I am writing and now I am sharing photos and in this I find joy.
    Thank you for expressing your thoughts and inspiring me and others.
    PS I remember 9-11-2001 and the blue sky I looked into during recess duty that afternoon. I live in PA and thought about the violence I saw that morning. It was a spectacularly beautiful day. My best teacher friend came to my room that morning and whispered in my ear what had just happened. Six months after she retired in 2008, she was diagnosed with Anaplastic Thyroid cancer and died a horrible death six months later. Presently I have a close friend fighting the fight with another go at chemo. Yes, we are all terminal. I grow weary of seeing friends die with cancer…it is such a cruel way to go.

    My philosophy since I retired…one day at a time.
    A favorite quote…All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen. RWE
    Another favorite quote…To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. HDT
    Since last summer, my favorite devotional writer…Sarah Young.


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